clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Big East Tournament Preview, Semifinal: Villanova-Providence rubber match will impact NCAA Tournament seeding

New, 40 comments

A year after a BET thriller, the two schools meet again on Friday night.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

After both teams won in dominant fashion on Thursday afternoon, the top-seeded Villanova Wildcats will take on the #4 Providence Friars in a rubber-match of sorts for the season series.'Nova found their way into the conference's final four after a powerful second-half display pushed the 'Cats over Georgetown. Providence walks into the Friday evening game after defeating Butler by 14

Both teams are likely now safe in the NCAA Tournament, so this game is mostly about seeding next weekend. They pair also met last weekend in the semi's, with Ryan Arcidiacono hitting a pair of free throws late to seal a Wildcats win.

Here are 3 things to watch for on Friday night:

How healthy is Daniel Ochefu?

Villanova's top post presence injured his right ankle at practice this week and was limited during Thursday's win over Georgetown playing just 13 minutes. Darryl Reynolds stepped up admirably as he has done in the last couple of months, but even he needs a break once in a while.

When Reynolds is out, Villanova goes very small and Georgetown abused them on the glass. Ben Bentil and Rodney Bullock are a better duo than anything Georgetown showed, so if Ochefu can't go (or is held out) Villanova is going to need to figure out how to mask their size disadvantage.

Is Ryan Arcidiacono prepping for a memorable finish?

Josh Hart will rightfully get the headlines and Kris Jenkins is quietly putting together a fantastic stretch run, but Arch lit up The Garden on Thursday. It wasn't just the 19 points and 6 assists, but the manner in which he did it. The senior hit some back-breaking 3s in the second half in transition and his confidence appears to be sky high.

Arch has always had a knack for the big shot, and he looked as confident and dominant as he ever has on Thursday. He doesn't need to carry 'Nova in March, but if he plays like he did on Thursday Villanova is going to be a tough out for anybody in the country.

How do the 'Cats defend Kris Dunn?

Dunn tore 'Nova apart in Philly en route to an overtime win, but Villanova turned the tables on him in Providence. Dunn is at his best when he has multiple options, and remains a player committed to getting others involved. In the first round 'Nova tried to double him and Dunn made the right decision most of the time.

On the return trip, Dunn was forced to shoot more (Bentil was limited) and he couldn't convert. With both players healthy, and Ochefu battling an ankle issue, it's going to likely come down to how well the'Cats can limit Dunn''s impact.